Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with ReconcilingWorks! Can you name these famous LGBT people of Latin@ heritage?
People are fascinating. There are so many ways of being male or being female or being both or rejecting the binary altogether. While that being refers to gender expression, not to be confused with sexuality, I am intrigued by and attracted to many expressions across the gender spectrum. So when I only have a few minutes to identify my sexuality, I use the language of bisexuality.
Granted, even that language takes some people awhile to grasp. A friend of mine asked, in all honesty, how folks who are bi navigate monogamy, as though being attracted to all genders necessitates at least two partners. On my less optimistic days, being bi means I've twice the chance of romantic rejection, but on my out and proud and feeling good days, it's a beautiful gift of being open to the possibility of falling in love with anyone. (Or twice the chance of being ridiculously awkward in conversations with new people, let's be honest.) It means that my first relationships with men aren't made any less by the relationships I've had with women, nor vice-versa. It means I can sympathize and dream with just about anybody who wants to share their stories with me.
I am also fairly fluid in my gender expression, which is another realm of conversation altogether, but interesting to contemplate when it comes to how who I'm attracted to plays into my own self-image. Being bi means I can relate to God in both genders. I can be loved by the feminine Spirit of God and encouraged by the Jesus who is my brother. Living in this space, of the freedom to love both men and women romantically, is a space I should be used to as a Lutheran minister (in our theology, everything's about paradox, the both/and). Some days it's fabulous, other days it's lonesome, but I think that's a feeling anybody can relate to.
Pastor at Christ our Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Chatham, NY
By JamieAnn Meyers
Transgender Representative and Board Member
During a conversation with a new cisgender heterosexual friend and person of faith, coming out as trans* proved to be a relatively positive and affirming experience.
They acknowledged their transphobia, but were very eager to learn about my identity as a transsexual woman. They were supportive and could also understand how my gender dysphoria led me to transition from my male birth-assigned sex to my female gender identity.
And then I came out to them as bi*. Suddenly my new friend grew quiet; then considerable confusion dominated their remarks and they immediately asked how I could be bi* and married to my wife? They erased my bi* identity and replaced it with a lesbian identity. Further discussion revealed that assumptions around infidelity, promiscuity and hypersexuality were also part of their biphobia, and their eagerness to accept me as a new friend was suddenly in question.
I explained to them that bi* people can experience emotional and physical attraction to all genders. Furthermore, there is a huge difference between experiencing emotional and/or physical attraction to a diversity of genders and acting on those attractions.
The conversation soon ended with my affirming my strong belief that the trans* and bi* sexual communities are a beautiful rainbow of diversity and complexity, including people of many different gender identities who express their sexuality in many different ways. As a trans* and bi* sexual-identified person of faith, I want to help focus our movement on building increased awareness and acceptance based on this wonderfully complex and inclusive array of sexual and gender diversity.
I am proud to identify as a queer bisexual radical-femme transsexual woman. I am a child of God, and I live at the intersection of multiple oppressions.
(Note: the use of the asterisk in trans* and bi* stands for inclusion of multiple gender and sexual identities respectively. Trans* includes all transgender and gender non-conforming people. Bi* includes identities such as pansexual/omnisexual, fluid, queer, homoflexible, heteroflexible, etc.)
By JamieAnn Meyers, Transgender Representative and Board Member
On Sunday, August 3, 2014 I visited the Seminary Ridge Museum at Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary, the school from which my Dad received his M.S.T. in 1956. The seminary was founded in 1826 by progressive theologian Samuel Simon Schmucker and is the oldest continuing Lutheran seminary in the Americas.
"When one congregation or a group of congregations gather for service in their local communities, they are the church in that place, taking care of that part of God’s vineyard. But this is all work that we do together.” These are words so eloquently spoken by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton about the ELCA’s annual “God’s Work. Our Hands.” event taking place on Sunday, September 7, 2014.
|This event is a unique opportunity for your congregation to look into the future and think about how you will continue to spread the unconditional love and welcome that is so embodied in the message of Christ. You can do this in new and bold ways, better serving your community, living into your RIC commitment by making a positive difference in the lives of LGBT families, friends and loved ones.|
There are many ways that your congregation can participate in this event. The ELCA published a wonderful tool kit at www.elca.or/dayofservice to consult. We encourage you to use this resource in your planning. This toolkit however, is broad in how it presents the event, and this message seeks to give you ideas specific to your commitment as an RIC setting in your neighborhood.
- Your congregation could participate by partnering with ReconcilingWorks and your local school district to create awareness of LGBT bullying and to create an anti-bully message to be spread into the community by hosting a workshop for church and community members as well as elected officials, teachers and school board members. Find the "Where All Can Safely Live" Allies Against Bullying curriculum here.
- Another way for your congregation to participate is by reaching out to a local LGBT community center to start a conversation about needs they may have at their location. Maybe the local center could use some landscaping work. Or perhaps your congregation could volunteer some hours to staff the reception area or phone line. Your congregation’s “God’s Work. Our Hands.” project could respond to those needs. Here is one resource (not comprehensive) to locate your local community center.
With all of our hands working together, we will be an extraordinary witness to the loving God in the LGBT community!
Go in Peace and Serve the Lord!
The Rev. Paul A. Tidemann, a ceaseless advocate for full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church and of society, died on Saturday, July 26, 2014, at 77 years old.
The Rev Anita Hill, ReconcilngWorks Regional 3 Coordinator, ordained extraordinarily at a ceremony presided by Paul in 2001, says of her long time mentor, colleague and friend, “Paul was one of the best preachers I have ever heard. A thoughtful theologian, writer, liturgist and pastoral presence, it was an honor and privilege to have served with him. Paul’s saying, ‘There is nothing that one is or one does that can set one outside the active love and grace of God’ is forever etched in my mind.”
Obama signs executive order prohibiting federal contractors from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity
"Today President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Significantly, the president's order does not include any new religious exemptions. While many media outlets have announced this news as protections for gay workers, it's important to note that transgender and bisexual workers are also included in this order. President Obama's action will protect approximately 28 million employees in 24,000 companies that hold federal contracts.
ReconcilingWorks celebrates the life and ministry of Bishop Emeritus Stanley E. Olson, former bishop of the Pacific Southwest Synod of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), one of the predecessor churches merged into the ELCA. Bishop Olson died on July 2, 2014, in Sacramento, California, at 87 years old.
Ordained in 1952, Bishop Olson’s ministry was marked by his commitment to social justice -- civil rights in the 1960s and an early champion of full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the Lutheran church.
“Bishop Olson spoke out for full inclusion and the rights of LGBT people when that was not a popular thing to do. Preaching at the first national convening of Lutherans Concerned in 1980, he continued his public witness for a church that lives up to the promise of Christ – that all are welcome," Aubrey Thonvold, ReconcilingWorks Interim Executive Director said.
Imagine running into your neighbor on the street corner and striking up a conversation, trading stories and learning what’s happening in your community. That’s how we envision Conversations at the Corner: pastors, ministry workers, Churchwide staff and activists gathering to learn about ministries of LGBT welcome in multiracial congregations and to dream about ways we all can strengthen and spread this welcome.
As June is racing to a close, so concludes a month filled with LGBT PRIDE all over the country. ReconcilingWorks has received many wonderful stories of how Reconciling Lutherans across the country are showing their support and PRIDE in their LGBT community! We are so excited by the work you are doing in the world!
PRIDE month is also a time for giving. The end of June also brings the end of the fiscal year for ReconcilingWorks. As I write this letter, we are $112,000 from the goal we set for ourselves last year. I am asking you to help us close this gap, through a special PRIDE season gift.
June 22, 2014 is Refugee Sunday declared by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) for their 75th anniversary.
LGBT individuals are fleeing Russia, Uganda, and countless other countries. On June 22, 2014 we encourage all RIC settings to take a moment and pray for LGBT people whose lives are in danger and who are seeking asylum.
Immigration Equality released a short film sharing success stories from their LGBT Asylum Program, which represents over 400 individuals from all over the world.
Alexander Kargaltsev, a photographer and graduate of Russia’s top film academy, spent his childhood in Moscow.
He experienced first hand the country’s homophobic environment.
When he began to fear for his own safety, he finally made the decision to leave.
He was granted asylum on May 5th, 2011.
Victor Mukasa is a human rights defender living in Baltimore, MD.
In his home country of Uganda, the issue of sexual orientation is just beginning to be understood.
His own religious community attempted to convert him from his transgender sexual identity.
Along with other activists, he co-founded Uganda’s top LGBT rights group.
He was granted asylum on June 27th, 2013.
Damaris Rostran, a social worker and community organizer, came to the United States from Nicaragua.
She kept her sexual orientation a secret to everyone but her own grandmother, who urged her to leave.
Having lost a friend herself, she knew what could possibly happen if she was open about her sexuality.
Damaris was granted asylum on May 8th, 2013. She now lives with her partner in New Jersey.
Watch the entire film:
- Leadership Changes at ReconcilingWorks
- A new RIC community, House of Hope Lutheran Church
- A new RIC community, St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Plenty of Christians support marriage equality
- Portico Eases Requirements for Same-Gender Couples to Get Benefits
- Thrivent’s Heart Does Not Follow its Treasure
- North Carolina couple and RIC Lutheran Pastor join landmark lawsuit to protect First Amendment rights of clergy
- International Programs Committee Sends Letter to World Bank President
- A new RIC community, Christ Church Lutheran
- A new RIC community, Messiah Lutheran Church